4 Parenting Lessons I Learned From My Working Mother
While Lauren Soufleris and her mom, Kris, have always been very close (she’s an only child), they’ve built an even stronger bond since Lauren, who lives in New York City, gave birth to baby George last summer. “As I got older, our relationship evolved and matured. I think of her as a confidante, a coach—especially when it comes to parenting—and a cheerleader,” Lauren says. The two make time to stay in touch, talking or texting a few times a week, and, of course, FaceTiming between visits. “I’m pretty sure she calls to ‘talk’ to George, not me,” she says. Below, Lauren shares some of the best parenting lessons she’s learned from her mother.
Juggling it all may look easy—but it’s not. “My mom was a masterful juggler. She worked full time as a flight attendant when I was a kid, leaving to fly to Europe on the weekends. Before she left, the house was always clean, the laundry folded, permission slips signed, carpools arranged, with dinner cooked and in the fridge (my dad’s culinary skills left a lot to be desired). She was also the homeroom mom, the Girl Scout troop leader—she really did it all.
She scheduled her trips to leave on a Friday afternoon and to come home Sunday night to maximize her time with me and to have my dad be around on the weekends when his schedule allowed. My mom wore so many hats and never showed the strain of the responsibility. I feel like there are many days that I am giving my best in both places (work and home) but feeling like I am failing in spite of it. She must have felt that way all the time; we’re both perfectionists. I have asked her on more than one occasion since George has been born, ‘How the hell did you do this?! And do it so well?’”
Prioritizing is key. “No matter how busy my mom was, she always had time for me and made me feel like I was the most important thing in her life. As a new mom, I realize it wasn’t that she always had time for me, it’s that she made time for me. That’s a really profound thing. You can appreciate all the sacrifices so much more when you’re faced with the same choices—should I get a manicure or cook and puree a homemade meal for my son? I want George to feel the same way, like I always have the time for him. One of my New Year’s goals was to walk through the door at night and 100 percent focus on George. I bathe him, put him in PJs, give him a bottle and read stories. No phones, no distractions. Once he’s in bed, I try and give my husband that same focus for an hour or so, and then around 8:30 p.m. I log back on. My husband and I find ourselves making less plans on the weekends too so we can spend time with George. I try and be more efficient in every way possible—I shop online for toilet paper and use an app for local grocery delivery. Anything I can do to get time back for family is top priority. Unfortunately, personal things fall by the wayside (cough, like the gym). You don’t realize how much time you wasted in life until you have a baby. Now I often think, ‘What the heck was I doing all day?!’”
Appreciate the everyday moments. “I love watching my mom with my son. She was and is an incredible mother, but she’s an even better grandmother. He’s only 8 months old but she’s already teaching him things like colors, numbers and how to clap. She reminds me to be patient and enjoy these moments. I know I’ll blink and be kissing a teenager goodnight, so her reminder isn’t lost on me. Like yesterday, George got up on all fours for the first time. He isn’t crawling yet, but getting up on his knees is the next big step toward that milestone. My husband and I were cheering him on like he won a marathon—which he loved. I consciously try to be like my mom in many ways when it comes to parenting. She is so full of love, and so incredibly patient. She’s also an incredible teacher in big and small ways. I want to be all of those things for my son.”